It all started with Allen.
Well, in actuality it began with my dad. But I only recognized how important his work was once I met Allen.
Allen was 6 when I met him. He and his family had moved from the United States to Sfax, Tunisia. They enrolled in my dad’s program to learn Arabic through filmmaking. Although Allen only had one line in the script, the movie was called “Allen’s Birthday.” Three months after that session, my dad received a thank you letter from Allen’s mom explaining to him how the session had changed Allen’s life. We found out that Allen had tried to go to Arabic classes but traditional teaching methods were putting Allen off the language. What’s more, Allen has a learning disability and learning English was challenging for him, let alone learning a whole new language. But during my dad's language program, Allen would go home and watch his movie so many times that he memorized every line. His mom would catch him repeating lines to himself in the bathroom mirror, and then using them in real life to interact with merchants, taxi drivers, and eventually to make friends. During the movie, Allen didn’t just learn a language, he learned to appreciate a new culture.
So many kids around the world view language as just another subject in class. But they are a gateway to a new world. After hearing Allen's story, I realized I wanted to open the world to children so that they can unlock their potential and one day change the world for the better.
- Amal Bahloul, President and Founder
We are a non-profit organization that aims to revolutionize both the travel and education industries by providing interns an opportunity to travel the world while teaching languages through the art of filmmaking. Our goal is to connect storytellers from all around the world to collaborate to create meaningful, inspiring, and educational art that happens when two cultures collide. We do this by connecting filmmakers with children around the world who wish to learn languages through the cooperative and immersive art of filmmaking.
We know that languages are best taught through active learning. Traditionally, languages are taught in sections: grammar, vocabulary, listening, speaking. Dr. Maher Bahloul realized that this is an unrealistic and inefficient way to teach languages. Rather, children should be taught through cultural understanding, immersion, and creativity. In 2011, Dr. Bahloul published a book called, "Lights, Camera, Action and the Brain: the Use of Filmmaking in the Classroom," in which he highlighted the many advantages of this teaching method. Filmmaking, as an innovative teaching technique, provides a way for our “stars”, or learners, to be actively involved in the product their making; thus, language learning almost becomes a secondary tool in the creative process, and the outcome of our sessions have been truly transformational on many levels for both our kids and our English-speaking interns.
Similarly, we believe that being a tourist in another country does not provide individuals with the most meaningful travel abroad experience; rather, they must take on the personality of a traveler. A traveler is someone that adds value to the society they are in by sharing their culture and at the same time seeking to understand the culture in which they are immersed. In today’s world, cultural immersion with locals is key to broadening one's horizons. Capturing that growth on film is truly spectacular.
In the summer of 2017 alone, in less than two months, we worked with over 135 kids, in three different countries, and made 15 short films. The best part about our mission, other than the joy it brings our kids to be in a movie for the first time, is the cross-cultural richness that stems from the experience of enabling interns to travel to countries they wouldn't typically travel to, as well as our kids collaborating with people from a completely different culture (one that they usually only see on TV). We endeavor to grow our organization and impact around the world because we believe that our mission to teach language through art has the power to change the world for the better.